When all alone in my chair, I just go about wishing
I want to be strong, I really want to be trusted
When all alone in my bed, I just go about yearning
I want to be cool,
I also want to be like him . . .

When all alone in my sleep, I just go about dreaming
I see myself there, having the same adventure . . .

Death Egg Zone: Act 2
Above Angel Island, Present Day

Miles Prower's awkward hop gained speed, and his twin tails rotated instinctively as he leaned forward. He gradually lifted his feet from the ground, removing any friction, allowing pure flight to propel him forward. Just ahead, the infamous Dr. Ivo Robotnik was running for his life.

Gotta keep going.

Before Miles could catch up, Robotnik ran into a structure beside the platform, slamming the door behind him. The two-tailed fox returned his feet to the ground and braked.

"Give it up, old man!" He shouted. "You can't hide in there forever!" It took Miles a moment to realize that the structure was in the shape of a head: the head of the original Eggman, the legendary figure whom Dr. Robotnik had chosen to base his appearance off of. Come to think of it, the machine that Miles had just fought in the previous room was also shaped like Eggman's head. This Robotnik guy was obsessive. "Come out of this thing or I'll tear it apart and DRAG you out!"

As if in response, the platform Miles stood on began to vibrate. The Eggman-shaped structure was rising. What was it, a rocket? No, a giant robot battle suit. Of course it was a giant robot battle suit. Bigger than the last one.

And it was breaking the platform Miles stood on. The two-tailed fox propelled himself onward again, just in time to escape the collapsing floor and reach more stable ground further along the corridor. Braking to another stop, Miles caught his breath. For the first time since entering this area, he had a chance to look around. In the distance, he could see countless stars among the black emptiness of space. He must have been in some enormous, transparent chamber. It surrounded the platform he stood on, which had now begun to quake.

FOOM. FOOM. FOOM.

Miles pretended not to notice the gigantic, mechanical monstrosity taking steps behind him. He yawned once, idly, before finally turning to face the machine.

From the mouth of the giant Eggman suit, a speaker crackled to life. "Curse you, Miles! You have foiled me for the last time!"

"I hope so. It'd be nice to finish this once and for all." He looked over his shoulder casually. "Then I can take this rusted offense to technology and salvage it for scrap."

"Impudent freak of nature!"

"Senile tub of lard!" Miles curled his lips over his fangs in a snarl, and the fur stood on his back as adrenaline rushed through his body. "You're gonna pay for your crimes, Robotnik!"

"Puhh. You always were among my more clichéd adversaries."

FOOM. FOOM.

The giant Eggman suit had stepped closer to the platform Miles stood on, and six enormous fingers hanged precariously over the fox.

"You and I both know how this shall end, young cub."

Miles leaned slightly forward, preparing to curl up his body. "I have a few ideas. Some of them involve a trial for every bad thing you've done. But most of them involve you freefalling through space."

"Feel the wrath of my MALICIOUS FINGERS!"

SMASH!

Just as the machine's fingers folded around the platform, Miles had flipped straight upward, spinning into the air. To all appearances his body had become a living ball, with only two tails sticking outside it to detract from the image. Miles then fell downward, and his rotating body collided with the mechanical finger directly beneath him. The sound of crunching metal rang sweetly in the fox's ears. The impact bounced him upward—still spinning—until he returned down and collided against the same finger again, producing the same satisfying crunch. Once more Miles rebounded straight upward. As he returned downward this time, however, the giant fingers released the platform and shifted away. The fox unfolded his body and firmly planted his feet back onto the platform. His red-and-white customized sneakers instantly absorbed the shock of the impact, allowing the fox to stand so straight that no one could have imagined he had just landed from being several seconds in the air. The singular act flowed seamlessly; it was a beautiful motion, a deadly ballet. But to Miles, it had become as routine as pushing a button.

The machine took another step before bringing its fingers down again. FOOM. SMASH!

This time Miles found himself between the two hands. Biting his tongue in concentration, he placed his own gloved hands to the ground so that he was on all fours. With a practiced movement, he formed his body into ball shape again and rapidly rotated in place—a technique known as the spin dash. He could continue spinning in place for minutes, but instead he shot forward, ricocheting back and forth between two of the robotic fingers. One of the fingers soon shattered in a tiny, fiery explosion. When Miles bounced back toward it, he spun straight through the few remaining embers to crash into the next clamped finger on the giant hand. He rolled back and forth until the fingers released the platform again, causing him to spin past his target and continue several feet down the platform. Slightly miffed, Miles uncurled himself and hopped back closer to Robotnik's machine.

The speaker came to life again. "Where in the world did you come from?" Robotnik asked, sounding more awestruck than annoyed.

Miles stood with his back to the towering machine, as if he had dismissed it as a threat altogether. He glanced upward indifferently, catching the tip of another finger that loomed over him from above and behind. "A place where we make our machines out of something stronger than tin foil!"

"It is not tin foil, you imbecile!"

Miles lay down on his stomach, his face staring forward—across the platform, not back at the machine threatening him. "Yeah? Seriously, do your thing again. I wanna show you something."

SMASH! Obligingly, the fingers came down again.

Before they landed, Miles had curled up into another spin dash. The giant finger that fell upon him bent as it came into contact. Miles continued spinning in place, revving even faster. The finger bent further, and with a metallic groan it tore completely off and shattered. More tiny, harmless embers fell upon Miles's fur coat like red-orange confetti. The fox released his spin dash just as the surviving fingers released the platform once more. After braking himself, Miles hopped back toward the battle with a disapproving shake of his head.

"You see? It came down right on top of my spin dash, and I didn't get a scratch on me! If I'd tried that on your giant hand from the Lava Reef earlier, I'd've been crushed! Your work's getting sloppier, Robotnik. Maybe it's time you just gave up."

"And maybe it is time you just got crushed!"

Miles shrugged. "If you were any good at this, I probably would be already!"

As Robotnik continued trying to pummel Miles Prower, his rage gave way to curiosity once more. "How did you ever learn to fight like that?"

Miles was still leaping and spinning, but he allowed himself a chuckle. "Are you kidding? I've studied the Legend of Sonic the Hedgehog my entire life! I know every technique of unarmed, anti-mechanical combat!"

"The what?"

"Kinda appropriate, huh?"

"What do you mean, 'Legend of Sonic the Hedgehog?'"

Miles snorted in disgust. "Look, don't play dumb, Doctor. You know what legend I'm talking about. The blue hedgehog hero? About five thousand years ago? Your entire badguy gimmick is shaped around it. I've already broken two robots you built to look and act like Sonic the Hedgehog. And this giant dumb finger-bot thing, this whole "Death Egg" ship of yours, they all have the face of EGGMAN—the villain of the story. I mean, you even have the same haircut as the guy! So don't try to tell me you don't know the Legend!"

Soon after Miles had finished answering, all of the fingers on the giant machine had been destroyed. Robotnik and his giant robot stood still for a moment; the mad scientist was working something out in his head. "Five thousand years ago, you say? Hmm… really. So is that how it has all played out? How very intriguing. Ha. How very interesting, indeed!"

"Quit stalling, Robotnik!" Miles shouted confidently. "You're beaten. Now come out. That thing looks kind of inflammable, and I'm guessing you don't want to die when I explode it all up, do you?"

For a brief moment, Miles actually thought that he HAD managed to break the mecha. It dropped downward, below the platform and out of his sight. Immediately after that, however, it rose upward, now beside the platform. Then it began walking.

FOOM. FOOM. A moment ago, the great echoing steps had only been ominous. Now they were dangerous—each step the machine took was destroying a section of the platform that Miles stood on. The fox ran in the opposite direction; he did not have to move very fast, but he did have to keep moving. Robotnik's cackling laughter could be heard through his speaker. He sounded somehow proud about something, something completely unrelated to the present chase.

"What if I told you that I AM the Eggman from the Legend you describe?"

"I'd say you're insane! Well, you know... more insane! Because that's impossible!"

"The clever little fox thinks he is all-knowing, hmm?" The giant machine spat a ball of flame out of its nose as it continued to pursue Miles.

Miles dexterously flipped over the flame. Normally he'd make a joke about the doctor's choice of weaponry, but right now he was trying to make a point. So instead he yelled, "Five thousand years, Robotnik? Really? Because you don't look a day over THREE thousand."

Through the speaker, Robotnik's laughter was louder now. "Ah, but who said I lived through all that time? Just content yourself to know, you preposterous mutant, that your 'legendary' Sonic the Hedgehog was outsmarted 5000 years ago, he was outsmarted 1 year ago, and when he returns 5000 years from now, he shall discover that he has been outsmarted again! Too speedy for his own good, I say. Ha! BWA-HA-HA-HA!"

Miles reflected on these words for a moment, leaping over another nose-flame as he continued fleeing the charging machine. Finally, he shook his head. "So all this Eggman stuff, it's not just because of some legend you like? It's really all about you? If that's true, then you're not just a weirdo. You're an eggomaniac!"

Robotnik sounded pestered. "It's pronounced EGOmaniac, you dolt! Not EGGOmaniac!"

"Whatever. But look, it still doesn't make sense. If you really are the Eggman, and Sonic the Hedgehog really is your mortal enemy... then why did you make those Sonic robots?" Miles distinctly remembered the challenge he faced during the Death Egg's first flight, as he was pitted against that silver version of Sonic. He also remembered his more recent combat against that other mechanized Sonic—not quite as challenging, but still intense—in the heights of Sky Sanctuary.

He could not see Robotnik shrug, but he could hear it in the doctor's answer. "I do hate that hedgehog, but he has provided a most excellent biological template. My elite machine warriors are designed to perform near perfection in single combat. So naturally, I have modeled them off of that creature!"

Miles was getting tired. Fortunately, he wasn't about to fall down a chasm—this platform seemed to go on forever—but his ribs were throbbing painfully. He still had one ace up his sleeve. It was a power he had recently learned. Miles closed his eyes as he ran onward.

Emeralds, empower me.
Rings, ready me.
Flickies, fortify me.

"Well, Robotnik," Miles began, leaping into the air, over another ball of flame, "maybe you should have modeled them off of ME."

Before he landed from his leap, Miles uncurled his body and screamed—a scream that drew from every fiber of his being. The fox's body took on a mysterious white glow. And, just as had happened before, he found himself flanked by four golden avian creatures. Super Flickies, he had called them.

Miles leaned forward and spun his tails, taking to the air himself. He turned toward Robotnik, staring at the machine's jet black eyeplates, through which the doctor was undoubtedly returning the stare in shock. His voice echoed as he addressed the doctor: "Open your machine. Hand over the Master Emerald."

Robotnik began to sputter. "B-but... how did you know it was here in my machine?"

"Because you just told me, egg boy!" Miles blinked, and the Super Flickies knew their objective. The first slammed into the machine's hull. It dropped open, revealing the Master Emerald. The second, third, and fourth Flicky swarmed the exposed container, tearing at it effortlessly as if they were ripping open the shell of a giant sunflower seed.

"ENOUGH GAMES!" Robotnik shouted. The doctor had begun charging his primary weapon as soon as the hull panel dropped. Within seconds, it fired a greenish-blue beam directly into Miles and the surrounding Flickies.

When the beam cleared, however, the five fliers remained. They had not suffered so much as a scratch. Miles's smirk carried ice, and his distinctive canines were again visible. "No more games," he agreed.

Robotnik's giant mecha continued marching against the platform. It continued firing beams and flames. But inside the cockpit, the doctor was in a state of panic. How had that cursed fox managed to turn himself invincible? And likewise, these vile little invincible pigeons; where had they come from? The blasted hedgehog hadn't been able to do anything like that before. All of these thoughts raced through Robotnik's head, until one of those vile little birds pulled apart the Master Emerald's energy converter.

A chain of explosions resounded throughout the giant Eggman machine. They continued going off in flames, even as the giant's metallic legs gave out and sent it crashing to the ground.

The flying fox's body ceased its glowing, and he landed on the now-stable platform. Miles did not notice the four blue Flickies leaving the scene; he was too distracted. Robotnik's giant robot was crashing.

The enormous mecha sank below the platform, resembling the manner in which a wrecked ocean liner might sink beneath the sea. Miles's gaze followed its descent. Somewhere, (Miles had no idea how many stories below), the great machine had been standing on something, some type of ground built into the interior of the Death Egg. And now, unless Miles had missed his guess, the sheer mass and force of the machine's fall had shattered that ground. Yes, as his ears perked upward with attentiveness, he could hear the telltale sounds of ruptured metal. His eyes squinted to follow the trail of vibrations, but even his keen vision made out little more than darkness so far below, darkness tempered with the sporadic lights of fresh explosions.

A small chunk of metal slammed into the platform, landing right beside Miles, and bounced off as it continued to fall. It startled the fox and caused him to hop backward—not that it mattered at that point—before his eyes raised toward the ceiling to see what he already knew. The explosions had spread to the ceiling of the chamber, and multiple other chunks of debris were now plummeting downward past Miles.

Between the collapsing ground and the caving ceiling, the endless sea of stars and space began to crack; the glass viewport walls surrounding the room were on the verge of coming apart. If Miles had been the cursing type...

"Oh, Robotnik. You stupid, stupid man." As Miles watched further cracks in the glass develop, he could hear the characteristic hum of Robotnik's spherical-shaped personal transport craft as it rose behind him. Robotnik always had that craft of his ready; the only thing he seemed really good at was escaping alive from his numerous failures. Through the uproar of intensifying explosions, Miles continued to shout with his back turned to the doctor. "What did you make this viewport wall out of? Ordinary glass?"

"It is NOT ordinary glass, you flippant fox! It is reinforced, unbreakable..."

"Well, now it's de-unbreakable! I should've just stayed on the island, and this 'Death Trap' of yours would've crashed on its own anyway!"

"Do not presume to lecture me, you meddling boy! I have an I.Q. of 300!"

"Yeah? Well I would've expected one of those standardized tests you took to have a question or two about basic physics!" Miles finally turned around, facing the doctor in livid fury, "About what happens when you try to walk around in a giant, highly dense machine, inside an arguably less dense support structure, which so happens to be suspended within the incredible pressure of space, no less, and all apparently within short range of the power source that keeps this support structure functioning! Because, you know, that sounds like something an idiot CHILD would dream up after eating too much candy. You stupid, STUPID old hack!"

Miles noticed that his voice had instinctively been getting louder; he had been trying to shout over the growing noise of a crashing space station, but the Death Egg was in its final death throes. A piece of debris bounced off the hull of Robotnik's escape craft, shaking it a bit in the air. With sweat pouring from his pointed bands of mustache hair, Robotnik pulled one of his levers and zoomed past Miles.

Miles leapt into the air, curled into a spinning ball, and slammed his body into the escape craft as it flew past.

"STOP, YOU FOOL!" Robotnik screamed, his voice betraying fright.

A new set of explosions began under Miles's feet. As had happened before, the platform was collapsing beneath Miles. The fox ran onward to keep ahead of the falling ground, he and Robotnik's escape craft keeping equal pace with each other. "If I were the fool, you wouldn't be the one worried right now!" he taunted.

As the craft kept flying him toward safety, Robotnik shook his head. "You are the fool BECAUSE you are not worried right now! You are putting forth all of your effort to destroy the very vessel that is keeping you from being sucked into space!"

The doctor did have a point, but that didn't faze Miles. Still running onward, the fox's eyes finally noticed the large object that was being gripped by Robotnik's craft. Through his heavy pants, Miles allowed himself a sigh of relief. "Well," he addressed Robotnik in a level voice, "at least you haven't lost the Master Emerald." With that, he jumped and smashed into one of the craft's hazard lights.

"NO!" Robotnik shouted in surprise. "You are slowing us both down, and the Death Egg is exploding! Have you not ever heard of the scorpion and the frog?"

"Yeah, I know that story. The scorpion's riding the frog across water, the scorpion stings him, and they both drown, right?" Still running, Miles somersaulted his body into the escape craft again. The impact slowed Miles down, nearly causing him to fall behind and down the breaking platform.

"IDIOT! YOU'LL KILL US BOTH!"

"No I won't. THIS scorpion knows how to swim. So I'm just gonna finish you off right now, okay?" Miles hit the craft again, bending its exhaust port. The dented contraption started to vibrate, but Robotnik managed to resteady its flight.

"Please!" Robotnik yelled. "Please... just let me get out of here!"

"Sure! Drop the Emerald!"

"NEVER!"

"Then here we are!" This time Miles slammed into the craft from almost directly beneath it, reshaping the hull and straining the clamp that held the Master Emerald. When Miles landed, however, the crumbling platform had nearly caught up with him. He sprinted forward, leaning to gain momentum, but the floor had already disappeared from his feet.

Gotta keep going.

The steady buzz of a propeller. It was directly behind Miles now, powering him for the instant he was suspended in air. When he finally caught up with the platform again, he thought about putting his feet back on the solid ground. He thought about it. But instead, he decided to let them keep trailing along air. Yes. Ground was nice to have—but he did not need it. Instead of returning his legs downward, Miles allowed them to fall behind, then further behind, then over his head—spinning straight into Robotnik's exhaust jet again. Curiously, this resulted in the exhaust flame growing brighter.

"NO! NO! MY BRAKES!"

Miles hit the craft again, causing a stream of petroleum to spill from its wound. If Miles had calculated correctly, it would just take one more well-placed strike...

The crane on Robotnik's shuttle tore off, and the Master Emerald dropped neatly on the platform ahead of Miles.

Robotnik's face burned bright red, undoubtedly from a combination of his panic and the physical heat of the fires that were now engulfing his machine. Similarly, the doctor's desire to live combined with his hovercraft's inability to brake, both realities shooting him toward the nearest escape hatch. "I HAATE THAT FOXXX!" his voice echoed back.

Miles looked to the escape hatch, and then he looked to the Master Emerald. The chamber had become brilliantly illuminated... and the Death Egg heaved its final breath.

Miles. Take it.

As Miles wrapped his arms around the Master Emerald, the light of a dying star enveloped them both. For a single heartbeat, it seemed as if Miles and the Emerald were the only things in the world that were not glowing...

Then, at the next heartbeat, everything in the world had suddenly stopped glowing... except Miles and the Emerald.

Pulsing with the same brilliant aura he had before, Miles heaved the Master Emerald through a controlled descent. They glided into the atmosphere and through the stratosphere, with only the steady buzz of his two-tailed propeller behind them. But... did that propeller seem louder than it should?

Yes, there it was. The Sonic Tornado, right on schedule. Miles altered his course to come in right above the biplane. Once he was precisely over the plane's wing platform, he released the Master Emerald and barked a command: "Activate Gem Carrier!" A hatch on the Sonic Tornado's tail opened, and a metallic cable unraveled. A small click and a sharp tug later, the Master Emerald was attached to the gem carrier as firmly as metal sticks to a magnet. It was an invention Miles was particularly proud of, modified to the Sonic Tornado after being tested on actual Chaos Emeralds. And now, it was a lifesaver.

"Hey, speaking of lifesavers," Miles smirked toward the pilot's seat, "you were right on time again, Sonic Doll! What would I do without you?" The autopilot did not answer—it just stared blankly forward as it always did. Sonic Doll was another of Miles's favorite inventions. The machine's head was crafted to look exactly like the legendary Sonic the Hedgehog, who had been Miles's idol since as far back as the two-tailed fox could remember. There was no body of course; the head was directly attached to the Sonic Tornado, and it served as the plane's automatic pilot. Miles always made sure to set the pilot on "Patrol Mode" whenever he went on dangerous adventures; this was in fact the second time that doing so had saved his life. And strangely enough, both times involved him falling from a destroyed Death Egg.

Miles often joked that Sonic Doll was the most cool-headed pilot in the world. Most pilots—including Miles—would fidget when flying a plane. They would look left, look right, and look upward, checking their surroundings. But Sonic Doll, not being a living creature, managed to keep its head staring straight forward without expression or movement, even through the most perilous of flights. That's how machines worked.

To Miles, the plane's wing felt as secure as any terra firma. It was all finally over. The fox chuckled to himself, primarily out of exhaustion and relief. Turning toward the Sonic Doll, he smiled and remarked, "All's well that ends well, right?"


Miles was eager to leave the Floating Island behind him. Still, as he returned to the Sonic Tornado, he noticed that the surrounding grass was already starting to regrow, recovering from the relentless firebombing it had suffered a few days ago. That was good. "Start Engines," he commanded, spin-jumping back onto the primary wing of his biplane.

But as the engines gained power, Miles saw a small Cucky flutter his way. The fox smiled at the tiny chicken. "Engines Off!" he shouted to the Sonic Doll, causing the roaring plane to hiccup and die as Miles dropped back to the ground. The fox ducked down and peered forward, allowing himself to address the small animal at its own height. "Hey there, buddy. You don't have to worry about that Robotnik guy anymore. Your island's safe."

The Cucky hopped frantically and clucked something in response.

Miles pointed to the plateau, back where he had set the Master Emerald. "He'll find it over there. Tell him that the Death Egg's destroyed, and Robotnik's gone now. But tell him to keep his eyes open, you know? Just in case any of those Eggman's robots are still around."

To this, the Cucky turned to follow the direction Miles had pointed. It then sat in silence, processing the information in its tiny chicken brain. After a couple of seconds, it clucked another brief sentence.

"No. You can tell him." Absentmindedly, Miles rubbed the bruise on his chin. Knuckles had clipped him with a spin attack early in that fight. It was the only real hit the echidna had got off him, of course. Miles had managed to floor the islander in seconds. That was another reason Miles wished to skip the farewells—despite their impromptu alliance, Knuckles had not even been able to look him straight in the face back at Sky Sanctuary. It was probably a little jarring to his pride to get beaten so badly by an 8-year-old. Even a "supernaturally mature" 8-year-old such as Miles.

Hmm. Where had Knuckles learned to spin attack and spin dash? Had the echidna civilization known about the Legend of Sonic the Hedgehog too? Well, they obviously hadn't studied it well enough.

The Cucky made another uncertain noise.

Miles pet the animal's cockscomb reassuringly. "I know you can do it, little guy. Besides, he needs to learn to listen to you and the others. If he had listened to you at the very beginning, well, a lot of this mess probably wouldn't have happened. And he knows that now." Miles had trouble hiding the resentment in his voice. Most of him knew that the confusion was not really Knuckles's fault. Most of him knew it.

After another couple of seconds, the Cucky nodded once.

"Great. Your guardian is a good person, you know? Just a little hard-headed. But he'll take care of you. I know he will." Miles did believe that Knuckles was a good person, but he still did not especially care to spend much more time around him. The two of them were just completely different types of people, so it was best for them to quietly go their separate ways. With a final wave to the Cucky, Miles flew back to the plane's wing. "Start Engines," he ordered again. Within seconds, the Sonic Tornado had taken off.

Behind him, the island had already begun to rise from the ocean. The return of the Master Emerald and all the Chaos Emeralds had allowed Floating Island to finally retake its rightful place in the sky. Miles nodded to himself. Somehow, it had all come out as a complete success. But everything did not yet feel right.

"Who are you?" he asked quietly. There was no response at first. But, Miles was a patient individual. He waited, gazing silently across the distant, beautiful sky. The silence continued for a little over two minutes. All the while, Miles stood on the wing of the Sonic Tornado, maintaining a penetrating stare. He waited for an answer.

We are the ancient ones.

The left edge of Miles's mouth curled in a half-smile. That did not tell him much information. Almost everyone was ancient compared to him. "Who are you?" he repeated.

We have watched you your entire life, Miles Prower.

Okay, that was a little spooky. Miles swallowed a bit. Again, he waited in silence for several more seconds. His question had not yet been answered.

I am Flicky.

Miles nodded. "The Flicky birds. The… the Super Flickies, right?"

There were a few more seconds of silence. For a reason he could not quite explain, Miles felt uncomfortable, as if his response had been insulting. "You were the ones who came to me those times just now, after the Chaos Emeralds got brought back."

The Chaos Emeralds were not simply brought back, Miles Prower. You returned them. You awakened their true power. You transformed them. That is one of the reasons why we came to you.

Miles tilted his head attentively. Was that voice inside his head, or did it come from somewhere else? "I… I can't see you right now. But you were here with me. A few times I saw you, and you looked like super-powered Flickies. And you just said that you're Flicky birds, right?"

We are the Flicky Ancients. But I, I am not a mere Flicky bird. I am Flicky.

At first, Miles did not understand. Only gradually did it all dawn on him. "Whoa. You mean… you mean, Flicky? The actual Flicky?"

Yes.

Miles jostled himself slightly. "This is making my head spin…"

Miles Prower, we have known you since you were born. We watched you grow. We saw your parents pass from this world.

The fox's eyes fell toward the blue waves below him. He watched the water pass, speeding by as the Sonic Tornado continued its flight from the Floating Island.

With pride, we saw you save our children from the Battle Kukku, our enemies from beyond time. With that action, Miles, and with your recent deliverance of the Floating Island, you have marked yourself. You are, now and perpetually, the Champion of the Flickies.

The fox shook his head, not to deny this assertion, but as a method of taking it all in. Dazedly, he began to chuckle softly.

What is comical to you?

Flicky sounded confused, and Miles didn't blame her. "No, it's nothing. It's just… wow." He kept shaking his head. Then, he sighed. "I gotta get a hold of my life."

More silence. Then, the voice returned. Where are you going, Miles?

Miles considered. He did not need long to decide. "I'm going to find out if Robotnik was telling the truth. I need to know if he… if he is really the Eggman. Because if he is… if he's Eggman… if Eggman's still alive, then…"

Then perhaps Sonic the Hedgehog is. And perhaps you shall be able to find him.

"Yes." Miles had not been able to say the words himself. But that was exactly his hope. "And you know, if I'd heard myself say something like that earlier today, I'd know I was insane. But that Robotnik really WAS the same guy as Eggman, wasn't he? And you... you're Flicky! If this is all real... then why can't Sonic be real, too? I just... I have to find out for sure. I have to go to where it all began.

And where did it all begin?

Idly, Miles looked down toward the waters again. When a dolphin surfaced beneath the biplane, he nearly lost his balance. "Whoa!"

Indeed, a pod of dolphins had been following the Sonic Tornado from the moment it left the Floating Island. Miles glanced behind him to discover that a flock of silvery gulls had also been flying behind. They probably should not have been this far away from land.

"It is him! He's the one who did it!" exclaimed the dolphin who had just leapt under Miles.

"It IS Miles Prower? I was by the island when it started to rise! I couldn't believe it!" another answered.

"I saw that big mustache ball explode! It was like a brand new sun in the sky!" one of the gulls chimed in.

"I saw it too! And he was flying with that big emerald, and he was flying like this!" a younger gull cheeped, proceeding to fly in a zigzag pattern that he imagined looked an awful lot like the way he had seen the two-tailed fox fly.

"It was amazing, Mr. Prower!"

"He's not Mr. Prower! He's SUPER PROWER!"

"He used his super prowers to fly? Is that why he doesn't need wings?"

"He used his tails! His tails let him fly better than wings!" The gull who contributed this remark tried to shake his tailfeathers vigorously, but this actually caused him to drop down a bit.

"Mr. Super Prower, how high did you go?"

"He flew high! I couldn't even see him at the top!"

"I bet he went as high as outer space!" cried a baby dolphin, leaping out of the sea to what was surely a considerable height for such a small animal, before splashing back into the water.

"I bet he went high enough to reach the HIGHEST OF ALL THE HEAVENS!" The gull who said this flew above his flock, spinning in a 360 degree loop before returning to formation.

Another young gull's eyes widened with awe. "Did you REALLY go that high, Mr. Super Prower?"

Miles was grinning from ear to ear, but he had to turn away from the crowd to keep his blush from showing. "Miles. It's just Miles, guys."

"But DID you go that high, Mr. Miles?"

"Show us how you flew, Mr. Miles! Come fly for us!"

"Yeah! Come fly for us!"

"Fly for us! PLEASE fly for us!"

Miles leaned down, chuckling self-consciously as all the gulls and dolphins chattered for him. It was really kind of embarrassing. He hadn't done that much, after all. He was just another creature, just another person, no different from any of them.

Fly for them, Miles.

Miles turned away from the crowd and smiled. He whispered back to the voice, "You're the ones who helped me do all this. Come out and show them who you are."

"PLEASE, Mr. Miles!"

"Please please show us, Mr. Miles!

They are calling for you, Miles. Fly with them.

The fox sighed in good-natured resignation. Then, with a great bound, he backflipped off the Sonic Tornado. In the past few times, he had transformed through a determined scream. This time, it was a joyful shout, a shout filled with the energy and desire to give whatever was needed from him. As it had before, Miles's body took on a glowing white hue, and his twin tails propelled him to the midst of the gulls. The dolphins leapt past him, to his left and his right, in pure delight. The gulls instinctively fell into a new formation, a V-shape for victory, with Miles himself pushed to the intersection and the lead. Each of them knew that, years from now, they would be able to tell their children and grandchildren that they had flown with the greatest hero of their age: the one and only Miles "Super" Prower.

The smile never left Miles's face. And, perhaps for the first time in the past few days, he remembered why it had been so important to stop that man named Robotnik. That man named Eggman.

Where are you going, Miles?

With a remembered determination, the fox's grin leveled out. "To where it all began. I'm going to Never Lake."